Jan 2, 2016
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Snake-witch (Ormhäxan) stone, Gotland, Sweden

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Snake-witch (Ormhäxan) stone, Gotland, Sweden. Now in Fornsalen museum, Visby. Photo Credit: Berig (Own Work). CC BY-SA.

From Wikipedia:

The Snake-witch (Ormhäxan), Snake-charmer (Ormtjuserskan) or Smiss stone (Smisstenen) is a picture stone found at Smiss, När parish, Gotland, Sweden. Discovered in a cemetery, it measures 82 cm (32 in) in height and depicts a figure holding a snake in each hand.[1] Above the figure there are three interlaced creatures (forming a triskelion pattern) that have been identified as a boar, an eagle, and a wolf.[2] The stone has been dated to 400–600 AD.[3]

The snakes, look very much like other rampant animals in heraldry, which tend to be generally unnaturally filled with spikes and pointy appendages. As if they were just zoomorph dragons.

Compare to these two Indian rock art fragments, from around 2000 BCE:

This article explores further on the subject of the Master of the Beasts subject:

  • [PDF] T. Negus, “Daniel in the Den of Lions: Early Medieval Carvings and their Origins.,” Folk Life. Journal of Ethnological Studies., vol. 44, pp. 63-77, 2005.
      Title                    = {Daniel in the Den of Lions: Early Medieval Carvings and their Origins.},
      Author                   = {Tina Negus},
      Journal                  = {Folk Life. Journal of Ethnological Studies.},
      Year                     = {2005},
      Pages                    = {63-77},
      Volume                   = {44},
      File                     = {tinanegus2005.pdf:tinanegus2005.pdf:PDF},
      Owner                    = {trismegisto},
      Timestamp                = {2016.01.02},
      Url                      = {http://www.green-man-of-cercles.org/articles/daniel_in_the_den_of_lions.pdf}

For further (and further, and further) fun, have a look at this Flickr group called “Daniel, Gilgamesh and The Master of Beasts“.


Article Categories:
1 CE to Present · Illustration · Scandinavia

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